October 21, 2020

A Family for Faru

Written by Anitha Rao-Robinson
Illustrated by Karen Patkau
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
October 2020
After Tetenya and his mother discover a young rhino alone on the savannah, the young boy helps search for other rhinos to be family for the orphaned Faru. As they trek past giraffes and vervet monkeys, guinea fowl and more, "the entire savannah spreads out below in greens, golds, and browns" and the two companions call and listen and search. But after a cool off in a pond of mud and waterberries for lunch, the two settle down for a nap in the shade of a jackalberry tree.
From A Family for Faru by Anitha Rao-Robinson, illus. by Karen Patkau

But when they are awakened by hunters, nay poachers, Tetenya's quick thinking and liberal application of the red-staining waterberries to Fatu's horn saves the little rhino from attack. Even better is the sound of other rhinos to which Fatu is drawn. Though the adult rhinos are safely enjoying a drink at a watering hold under the protection of armed soldiers, it is hard for the two friends, almost brothers, to part company.
From A Family for Faru by Anitha Rao-Robinson, illus. by Karen Patkau

Anitha Rao-Robinson's story is one of friendship and compassion but also conservation as her final note about "Rhinos" elucidates. I don't want to know what really happened to Faru's mother but, judging by the machete in the poacher's hands, it was potentially tragic. It's reassuring not only that Faru was found and offered security with Tetenya and his mother but that they were able to protect him from dangerous hunters while they searched together for a rhino family with whom he might belong.

Anitha Rao-Robinson's text evokes the camaraderie of rhino and boy in their companionable activities, whether it be collecting waterberries or hiking or resting and it's Karen Patkau's extraordinary digitally-rendered art that takes us to the savannah. Whether conjuring the acacia and jackalberry trees or the wildlife of Fatu and Tetenya's home or the warmth of the grasslands habitat with her organic shapes and earthy colours, Karen Patkau's illustrations take young readers to a land where a rhino can be protected by a boy and the bad guys can be thwarted by a clever child and a handful of berries.

From A Family for Faru by Anitha Rao-Robinson, illus. by Karen Patkau

No comments:

Post a Comment